The Instigator
popculturepooka
Pro (for)
Winning
20 Points
The Contender
Vi_Veri
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points

Mind over Matter?

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Post Voting Period
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after 5 votes the winner is...
popculturepooka
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/16/2010 Category: Education
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,849 times Debate No: 12240
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (27)
Votes (5)

 

popculturepooka

Pro

=========
Introduction
=========

This debate will be on the age-old clash in philosophy of mind over the issue of whether or not there is an immaterial element to, but not limited to, persons. This immaterial element is attributed to the mind or the soul. Of course, the question is whether or not this immaterial element even exists and that is what we are here to debate. To put it another way - is there more to persons than their material bodies? I will be answering "yes" to that question so I will be taking the Pro side. My opponent shall presumably be answering "no" to that question and thus will be taking the Con side.

To make it very clear: I affirm *substance* dualism as opposed to *property* dualism. I'll leave it to my opponent to describe what kind of materialism she affirms.

I will now offer some definitions that I think are necessary as many of these terms have an everyday use and a more narrow, precise, philosophical use. To avoid straw-manning or pigeon-holing my opponent I'll let her define terms for her side if she feels the need to do so.

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Definitions and Clarifications
==========

Mind - (in a human or other conscious being) the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc. [1]

Matter - the substance or substances of which any physical object consists or is composed. [2]

Substance - a substance is characterized by its properties, but, according to those who believe in substances, it is more than the collection of the properties it possesses, it is the thing which possesses them. [3]

The philosophical concept of "substance" often gets confused so I must hasten to add that this term doesn't presuppose dualism as it could very well be that reality only consists of one kind of substance; a materialist would (should?) take that to be true. (Technically, there could other kinds of substances if other monisms are true like idealism, [4] or neutral monism [5], but I consider those options irrelevant to the debate.)

Dualism - in the philosophy of mind, dualism is the theory that the mental and the physical — or mind and body or mind and brain — are, in some sense, radically different kinds of thing. [6]

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Rules
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1st Round - is for assent, questions, introductions, clarifications, definitions, worries about how I framed the debate and things of that nature. NO ARGUMENTS, PLEASE!

2nd Round - is where both I and my opponent will present our respective case(s) for our respective metaphysical theory.

3rd and 4th rounds - are where the real fun begins and we get to attack each others' positions and defend our positions from attacks.

I don't really expect for this debate to devolve into semantics, but, just for posterity's sake, no semantics!

P.S. Sorry for the cheesy debate title but I couldn't resist - it's just so perfect for the debate topic. :)

P.P.S. I thank my worthy opponent for agreeing to debate with me. I'm sure this will be a good one.

==========
Sources
==========

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[4] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[5] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[6] http://plato.stanford.edu...
Vi_Veri

Con

I thank PCP for challenging me to this much anticipated debate. I will be the "matter" portion of the question. As Con, I will be the seemingly dramatic claim that there is only one substance in the universe - monism. I will be clarifying some extra definitions. I will be arguing on behalf of Functionalism in this debate.

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Definitions
---------------

I concede to the definition of Matter. I also concede to the definition of Dualism, though I add that by "radically different kids of things," dualism implies that they are different substances. I will also let the definition of mind continue in this debate, though it is going to be the main concept we are going to be debating - is the mind a different substance all together, or is it the brain itself?

Monism: the position that mind and body are not ontologically distinct kinds of entities [1]

Identity Theory: mental events are type-identical to the physical events in the brain with which they are correlated [2]

Functionalism: mental states (beliefs, desires, being in pain, etc.) are constituted solely by their functional role — that is, they are causal relations to other mental states, sensory inputs, and behavioral outputs. [3]

Brain: That part of the central nervous system that is located within the cranium (skull). The brain functions as the primary receiver, organizer and distributor of information for the body. [4]

Substance (CLARIFICATION): When we talk about substances in this debate, we are not using a chemistry definition. (i.e. that every element is a different substance).

s, in summary, that there are at least six overlapping ideas that contribute to the philosophical concept of substance. Substances are typified as:

being ontologically basic—substances are the things from which everything else is made or by which it is metaphysically sustained;

being, at least compared to other things, relatively independent and durable, and, perhaps, absolutely so;

being the paradigm subjects of predication and bearers of properties;

being, at least for the more ordinary kinds of substance, the subjects of change;

being typified by those things we normally classify as objects, or kinds of objects;

being typified by kinds of stuff.

We shall see later that the Kantian tradition adds a seventh mark of substance:

substances are those enduring particulars that give unity to our spatio-temporal framework, and the individuation and re-identification of which enables us to locate ourselves in that framework. (It should be remarked in passing that at least one major expositor of Aristotle (Irwin: 1988, especially chs 1, 9, 10) attributes a very similar intention to Aristotle himself.) [5]

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy_of_mind)
4. http://www.medterms.com...
5. http://plato.stanford.edu...

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All the best of luck to you, PCP, and let's have a mind blowing debate (lol I had to add another pun, you know).
Debate Round No. 1
popculturepooka

Pro

Again, thanks to Vi_Veri for accepting the challenge. Best of luck to her!

I'm going to stick with one argument as I want the space to explain it. This argument has it's roots in Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas who gave a version of it to try to prove the existence of a soul/immaterial intellect but has been given a modern twist by the philosopher James Ross. [1]

I will present the argument in syllogistic form and then go on to defend each premise.

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Argument from Indeterminacy of the Material
==========

(1) Some thoughts have determinate content. In particular thoughts that involve formal reasoning (i.e. mathematical and logical reasoning).
(2) Material processes or functions among material processes are indeterminate with respect to intentional content. Any material process or function among material processes is logically compatible with the existence of a multiplicity of propositionally defined intentional states, or even with the absence of propositionally defined intentional states entirely.
(3) Therefore, some thoughts are not material processes or functions among material processes. [2, adapted from Victor Reppert's formalization of Ross's argument]

=========
(1)
=========

This premise is, or should be, uncontroversial. Indeed, denying that at least some of our thoughts are determinate is self-refuting (I'll explain if necessary). However, I will show clear examples of the determinate content of some thoughts. The type of thought I am focused on is formal reasoning of thoughts, that through their form, preserve truth.

In logic their are certain argument forms that determine validity. Let's take modus ponens: if p then q; p; therefore q. Example: If Ash is a Pok�mon trainer then he can catch Pok�mon; Ash is a Pok�mon trainer; therefore he can catch Pok�mon. That argument couldn't fail to be valid because I reasoned by the form of modus ponens. Now it must be the case that modus ponens be logically incompatible with any other form of reasoning or it would fail to retained it's validity in all cases - and that would be disastrous! Imagine if modus ponens only was valid *some* of the time. What would that do to all of our arguments? There'd be no way to differentiate between a valid modus ponens and an invalid "modus ponens"! That means we would have never given a logically valid argument in our entire lives. Surely, the argument form of modus ponens is determinate then.

In math, like logic, their are certain forms that will always have to work in every single case. Let's take addition: x + y = z. Example: 1 + 2 = 3. Obviously, for it to be adding it has to work for every single case you add correctly. It can't be adding if I get the right answer only some of the times. Would it really be addition if 3 {+} 12 = 15 but 45 {+} 3,000 = 5? No, of course not. Addition must determinate enough to exclude anything that is logically incompatible with it. And certainly the last problem I presented is (more on that later).

==========
(2)
==========

I expect this premise may be less obvious then the first but if you think about it I think you will see my point. There is nothing inherent in matter that will give it one meaning (or particular determinate content) instead of another. There is nothing inherent in matter that will constrain it to be compatible with only one particular meaning. Indeed, it's possible to give logically incompatible meanings to matter.

I propose two arguments to definitely show that this is the case. If these two arguments are sound their results can be generalized to all cases of meaning and determinate content.

First, W.V.O. Quine's indeterminacy of language thesis. [3] Quine asks us to imagine an anthropologist who is trying to translate an unknown language into, say, English. She comes across native speaker of that language who she notices says the word "gavagi" every time when looking at a rabbit. Naturally, she would think gavagi means rabbit and goes on to translate as such. But, equally compatible with the natives behavior alone are other translations such as gavagi meaning an undetached part of the rabbit. Perhaps those people like a particular body part of rabbit (like the foot) but only while it is still attached to the rabbit. It is highly implausible but it is possible. The point is their is nothing about the behavior/material facts of these people that determines whether they mean rabbit or undetached rabbit part by gavagi. It is indeterminate what they mean by it just going on how they act. Quine took this to mean that there is no interpretation of gavagi that is objectively better than any other and that choosing the "correct" translation is a only a matter of mere pragmatics. Generalizing this it leads us to the conclusion there is no fact of the matter about people's behavior that would determine what we mean by anything we ever say. That's an issue to say the least.

Second, Saul Kripke's interpretation of Wittengenstein's rule-following paradox which is really just a sceptical paradox of meaning. [4] Basically, Kripke makes this point by addition and "quaddition". Addition is defined as it normally is - but what is "quaddition"? Quaddition is similar to addition except past some certain point where you have never added the numbers it diverges from addition. For the sake of simplicity imagine that you have never added any number larger than 57.

The form of quaddition is this:

x {+} y = x + y if x, y < 57
x {+} y = 5 otherwise

With addition the answer to 57 +1 would be 58. But if you quadded 57 + 1 what would be the answer? 5, of course. Now imagine I asked: "What fact about you determines whether or not you are adding or quadding?" You can't appeal to past addition because I can easily just say when you thought you were adding in the past you were really quadding. This seems to show that there is no fact of the matter about what you meant when you said you were adding as you might well have been quadding the whole time and not known it. But if that is a problem for adding then it can be generalized to be made a problem for all meaning as there is nothing about the material facts that determine meaning at all. Surely, one can see the problem with accepting this conclusion? It leads to radical meaning skepticism.

If we accept both of these arguments it it would seem that all of our thoughts are indeterminate.

==========
(3)
==========

But, wait! If it has been established that some thoughts have determinate content and that matter literally *can't* have determinate content - i.e. it's indeterminate - then matter, in principle, cannot even be capable of thought. It's impossible for thoughts to be thought without a thinker so we need to look elsewhere for what is responsible for thought. The only answer seems to be that there is an immaterial thinker, a substance, that thinks these thoughts.

==========
Sources
==========

[1] http://www.nd.edu...
[2] Victor Reppert, "The Argument from Reason", in William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009) pg 379
[3] "Translation and Meaning", W.V.O. Quine, Word and Object (Cambridge,MA:The MIT Press, 1960) pgs 29 -34
[4] "The Wittgensteinian Paradox", in Saul Kripke, Wittegenstein on Rules and Private Language: An Elementary Exposition (Harvard University Press; Reprint, 1984) pgs 7 - 55
Vi_Veri

Con

Sorry. Too much homework/class/and work to post anything this round. I will post next round.
Debate Round No. 2
popculturepooka

Pro

My opponent did not have any chance to respond so I will now turn it back over to her.
Vi_Veri

Con

Vi_Veri forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
popculturepooka

Pro

Unfortunately, Vi did not get a chance to post her argument.

And per Freeman's request:
Vi_Veri

Con

Vi_Veri forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by GodSands 6 years ago
GodSands
It is unfortunate that Vi_Veri missed out on three rounds due to a busy schedule.
Posted by Vi_Veri 6 years ago
Vi_Veri
Our internet goes out for 7 hours every day for the past 2 weeks - and it wasn't even working for the past week (since two days ago). We're lucky it's not down right now.
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
Ah, that's unfortunate L and Vi. We have to do this again!
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
Werd. It's true. Verizon is d!cking us like crazy. I'm posting from The House Cafe, Vi lol.
Posted by Vi_Veri 6 years ago
Vi_Veri
Verizon just had our internet down for almost 3 days now (it wont be up until tonight). Lots of HATE for this company right now.
Posted by TheSkeptic 6 years ago
TheSkeptic
I'd blame the Verizon customer support ;(. And yeah pop, I'll be waiting for the debate :). Message or challenge me though - I'm not apt at responding to profile comments.
Posted by Vi_Veri 6 years ago
Vi_Veri
I've been struck by a lot of bad luck regarding school and work lately. I've had so much homework/work/family business/ overall internet shitties (we've called Verizon 20 times and asked them to send a tech out here but they have dismissed it each time). This f*cking sucks.
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
If thoughts literally can't be had by matter then they'd have to be had by something that is not matter - the immaterial.

We need a thinker to think thoughts and so that thinker would have to be not made up (wholly) of matter as well. The mind would be that immaterial substance that thinks those thoughts if the argument works.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 6 years ago
GeoLaureate8
Ok, so matter is indeterminate and thoughts are determinate; how does that make mind a separate substance (if I am correct to even call it that)?

(Im lacking when it comes to philosophical terms. :[ )
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
Meh, I doubt she'll forfeit. She's just throwing us off a little. :p

But, yeah, after this debate I'll throw it at you, Skeptic.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by RazaMobizo 6 years ago
RazaMobizo
popculturepookaVi_VeriTied
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Raziel
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Vote Placed by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
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Valtarov
popculturepookaVi_VeriTied
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Danielle
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